Also known as Confession or Reconciliation, the Sacrament of Penance is a great gift given to us by God. It is by this Sacrament that we are absolved of our sins and restored to a state of sanctifying grace.
Confessions are heard one half hour before all Masses and from 10 to 11 am on Saturdays. In the case of a Sacramental emergency, call (804) 396-5665.
Where does this Sacrament originate? This is one of the seven sacraments instituted by Christ. Jesus Christ himself forgave sins while on earth. By saying, "Go in peace, your sins are forgiven," Christ proved His own divinity. He shared this divine power with his apostles before Ascending into heaven: "Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven. Whose sins you retain, they are retained." When the apostles, or their successors or their ordained assistants say, "I absolve you of your sins," they speak in the person of Jesus Christ, by His authority, and they exercise His divine power. When the priest says, "I absolve you," it is Christ saying, "I absolve you!" Ever heard God speak to you? Come to confession! (Reconciliation or Penance are two other names for this same sacrament.)
What does Confession do? By it we are reconciled to the three persons of the Trinity. We are also reconciled to the Church. Ever tried to continue with a inter-personal relationship, if there is an unresolved hurt? Nothing goes forward. The same thing is true with our inter-personal relationship with God. By our sins we wound--or worse, kill--our relationship with God. Sweeping these hurts under the carpet is dishonest; they don't disappear. Honesty is required to seek forgiveness. Forgiveness is obtained from God when the petition is honest, and the sorrow authentic. Let's be clear, by confession we do not restore anything in God's heart--only in our own. Absolution is freedom.
Can't we reconcile with God directly? Yes, any time, any where. However, Confession is the ordinary means by which serious sin is absolved. Only extraordinary circumstances justify extraordinary means. God instituted this means of absolution and He expects us to use it for the great strength it affords.
Doesn't God's love conquer all sin? Yes, that's precisely why forgiveness is so easily obtained in the Sacrament of Confession: the love and generosity of God.